Mindful breath in, mindful breath out, mindful breath in why did he say that to me what a jerk I

can’t believe he blamed me it’s not my fault, crap, right, mindful breath in…

Yup, I know you’ve experienced this. Anyone who has ever tried to meditate or be mindful has experienced this.

You sit down, intent on trying this mindfulness stuff, get comfortable, relax, close your eyes and start to focus on your breathing.

Then BAM!

The Little Nag in your head starts yapping at you and you can’t shut her up. She’s not comfortable with silence, she needs to make noise, a lot of noise, all the time. She needs your attention.

Your ego, aka The Little Nag, feeds off of your attention and keeps you living in a fog – not really here, not really present.

Your ego builds its strength by constantly reminding you of your shortfalls, your successes, your superiority, your ambition, your failures. Without recognizing your ego as The Little Nag and not who you truly are, you will forever and un-knowingly be at her mercy, while your life passes you by.

I spent the first 40 years of my life not knowing that The Little Nag was not really me, not really who I was. I didn’t know that I could separate myself from the voice in my head and, by doing that, find a doorway to peace and happiness.

I spent 40 years wringing myself out through stress, suffering constant headaches, fatigue, illness and panic attacks. I made myself and those around me suffer needlessly, all because The Little Nag kept making mountains out of molehills.

Then I learned about mindfulness and meditation.

Now, like most people in this modern era of chaos, I had tried meditation before. Sit on a cushion, pretzel yourself up, close your eyes and try to focus, but all you can focus on is the pain in your knees and the multitude of junk racing around your brain.

“This is stupid. I can’t do this. I must be doing it wrong.”

Well, in a way, I was doing it wrong. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I didn’t know that I could just let the thoughts go, float by and not get carried away with them. I didn’t know that if I focused on feeling my breath come and go, that I would be able to let the thoughts go and be present.

Imagine this: you’re driving your bus. You’re driving down a long, straight, simple road. From that road there are side streets, alleys, driveways, exits. There are other cars and pedestrians. Your goal is to just keep driving, down that straight and simple road, while letting all of the turns and people and noise pass you by. The Little Nag is at the back of the bus where you put her:  Turn right! Turn left! Speed up! Slow down! Look at that!

Now, being a present and aware driver, you can’t help but see the side streets, the exits, the pedestrians – but you don’t have to follow them. You see them, acknowledge them, and let them go. Right turn down Parenting Street – nope, just let it pass. Exit off to Work Highway – nope, pass it by. Pizza delivery guy cut you off – oh well, just keep going. Just keep your bus on the road.

This is not easy. It is simple, but not easy. Your ego, The Little Nag, will not like being unheard at the back of the bus. She will make a fuss, she will yell at you and demand your attention, and sometimes she’ll get it.

Just remember to acknowledge her and what she is bringing up, and then let her and her noise go. You are driving the bus, you have the power to leave her at the back, pass by all the right and left turns, and just keep moving forward.

Mindfulness, like driving, takes practice. You didn’t learn how to ride a bike or drive a car in one day, and you won’t learn how to be mindful in one day. Be patient and compassionate with yourself.

By recognizing The Little Nag and driving your bus anyway, you have already made huge progress. Don’t push yourself and struggle to get there quickly. Just relax and enjoy the drive.